4.29.2012

Mission: First carp on the fly


Status: Complete

Mission details:
April 29, 2012 – 11:30 am to 3:30pm
My latest obsession has been to catch a carp on the fly. Up until this morning, I had spent hours researching and tying flies, but not catching. The last time that I went out, I was fishing a spot with a ton of carp, but just wasn’t able to hook up.  After that trip, I got in touch with carp on the fly angler and blogger, Trevor, over at Fly Carpin. After describing my failures with him, he gave me a few suggestions that I was eager to put to the test. 

The first thing he told me was to try a different fly for the type of water I was fishing. That fly is called the backstabber and his suggested color was a black/olive combo. With that, I headed out to the store to pick up some materials and tied a few up.

After breakfast this morning, it was time to put his advice into action. I went to a different spot that I know has a large population of carp that tend to hang there from spring until late fall. This was my first trip there this year so I wasn’t sure if they had moved in yet. Luckily, my uncertainty only lasted a few minutes before I saw several carp cruising the shallows. I slowly waded into a position that would allow me decent casting room and the largest available area to target.

At first, I was basically blind casting. My retrieve was a single quick strip followed by a long pause. Within a few minutes, I felt my first tug on the next strip after the pause and set the hook. It was pretty easy to figure out the fish wasn’t a carp and I quickly brought in a nice little sunfish. 
Sunfish

Just a few casts later, it was fish on again. This fish felt bigger...could it be? Nope – instead a nice pound or so river bass came to hand.  I snapped a quick picture and went back to casting.

A pound or so bass

After several more casts, I found myself fighting another bass that turned out to be a bit bigger and even scrappier. 

a bit bigger....
After I released that bass, I was checking my leader and knot when I saw a golden bullet cruising about ten feet from me and he looked like he was on the hunt. I flicked the fly out there and it landed about six inches from his face. Trevor had told me that if you get a fly close to a carp, pay attention to the gills because they are like vacuums and can suck in a fly from quite a distance. Sure enough, I watched this carp’s gills open up and suck in my fly. I set the hook and instantly knew it was game on! Within ten seconds I had just watched thirty feet of line scream off of my reel. I laughed in excitement as this fish raced towards deeper water. I could feel every thump of his tail resonate through the nine foot fly rod. 

This was it…it was happening; my first “freshwater bonefish” and holy crap was it living up to its reputation!!! After a few minutes, I started to gain some ground and then realized that I needed to find a good spot to land this thing. After a quick scan of the shore, I found my spot and started working my way over there. Five minutes after it had started, I landed my first carp on the fly. I set up my camera, snapped a picture, and let the beast go. 


First carp on the fly! What a rush!!
I let out a big, "YEAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!" and tied on a fresh leader. Now that I had one, I wanted more! I started casting and quickly landed a few more bass.

Little feller

A solid 3lb'er and full of eggs

Another nice bass

Also full of eggs


Final bass of the day!

 After the fifth bass, I decided to move a bit more downstream to find some fresh targets. As I stalked the bank, I spotted another carp cruising. I laid out a nice cast and saw him turn towards the fly. I waited a few seconds for him to suck it up and set the hook – FISH ON!!!!!!!!!!! Once again the reel was screaming and I was giggling. All of a sudden, it stopped and started racing right back at me. I did my best to keep up but I just wasn’t fast enough and he managed to spit the hook.

I regrouped and saw a big carp jumping in the same area about fifty yards upstream. I quickly made my way closer and started casting. On the fourth or fifth attempt, I felt some weight when I stripped the line, set the hook, and went to battle with the third carp! 

This fish felt massive and it was peeling line quicker than any fish thus far! I looked down at my watch and noted the time of 3:18. Around 3:23, I had to switch hands because my wrist was burning! After a minute of shaking it off, I switched hands again and started reeling this thing in. It got about ten feet away and I got my first glimpse – this fish was massive. I started pulling him towards the shallow flat and apparently he did not like that because almost as soon as his belly touched the shallow river bottom, he took off. Once again, the drag was screaming and all of a sudden, the fly came shooting back at me!!!!!!!

SON OF A BEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After eight solid minutes of fighting, I had just lost a monster. I took a minute to collect myself, inspected the fly and instantly regretted not tying this fly on the recommended Gamakatsu SL45 bonefish hook. Instead I opted for a cheaper hook that just wasn’t up to the task.That decision cost me a huge fish. Lesson learned.

At that moment, I decided to call it a day and started the trek through the woods back to the truck. I reflected on the day as I walked and could do nothing but smile.What an awesome day.

Fish count for the day:
1 bluegill
7 largemouth
1 for 3 carp

Hell freaking yeah!

26 comments:

  1. Hell yeah! Welcome to the carp junkie club. You are ruined for life, but in a good way. I promise.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Brent! I've always loved fishing for carp so it only seemed natural to do it on the fly since this is the year of the fly for me.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, John! I have spent hours reading your stuff on this very subject!

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  3. Nice. Any day catching fish is a good day, isn't it?

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  4. I love it! I can't wait to get in on a carp. By the way, Bill Trussell did a review of your blog, and that's how I found it. I really like the pictures. Keep it coming! I'm followin' you now, buddy.
    Here's me: http://sparetimefish.blogspot.com/.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, Anthony! I checked out your blog and you now have yourself another follower!!

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  5. Oh man, you have gone over to the dark side now! There is no looking back and the only thing you will be thinking of is Carp, Carp, Carp!
    That being said, man that rocks you got into some carp. Try the fly swap next year with Trevor, its awesome and you will be introduced to some great Carpohoics.

    Lonny at www.caddisflyandpixiepoo.blogspot.com

    Some carp stuff there as well.

    Way to go!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, Lonny! I have to admit - I had a hard time steering my truck towards the office instead of to the river for more carp action! By next year, I hope to have a signature carp fly and would love to jump in the swap

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  6. I've had trouble with carp on the fly! I've caught 1 while fishing trout, and 1 while sight fishing for carp, it's tough stuff! Nice work on gettin one!!

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    1. Thanks, Blake! Keep at it...I have a feeling that once you really figure it out, it gets a bit "easier".

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  7. Thats Carpoholics. Sorry about that.

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  8. Sounds like a blast man.

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  9. Pretty sweet Nick, what a great way to get going and sorry about your impending ruin. The Gamakatsu SL45 is pretty expensive but has a perfect gape to length ratio for many carp flies and you will not bend it out. Only had one fail on me EVER and that hook had caught 14 carp above 10 pounds before it gave up and snapped.

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    1. LOL - I'm not worried about it. I knew I would be a fly fishing darksider as soon as I started.

      Lesson learned on the hook - although there has to be a similar 2x hook out there....

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  10. MAN! That sounds like a LOT of fun!

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    1. You have no idea, Ricky! Definitely a must do for any fisherman's bucket list.

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  11. This is why I follow your blog, to read great warm water post like this. An awesome trip and the crap landing is even better. From the looks of the butt of that fly rod you was I would say you had be using something 5 wt and above. Great Post!

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    1. Thanks, Bill! It's always my goal to be able to make a reader feel like they were right there with me!

      The rod was a 9' 8wt TFO BVK. This was only my second time using it, but I am loving it so far. I'll be doing a full review soon

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  12. You'll get the hang of it. My friend Bob Long had a zero weight fly rod custom made. He uses it on carp. After 15 minutes of watching him trying to land a carp, I have to walk away. It's like torture to watch. He usually succeeds.

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    1. A zero?! That's just a whole new level of insanity right there!! LOL

      I felt slightly over lined yesterday with an 8wt and will probably be picking up a 6wt soon, but a zero?!?!

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  13. Congrats! I loved reading this, as I encounter carp while kayaking and smallmouth fishing near my home, and have yet to catch one. But this year I will TRY!! Thanks, great post.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you!! A carp on the yak might be pretty fun and sure to give you a good tow!

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  14. How did I miss this!!! Man, congrats! and well done. I already know you're ruined.

    Gregg

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Let's hear it!

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